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Intracom’s Vcom Matrix: Unleashing the Power of Communication in Broadcast Production – Webinar

Published on Dec 19, 2023 | Podcast, Featured, Webinars, Past Events

Find Out How to Eliminate Communications Disruptions & Dropouts in Remote Production Environments

If you lose comms, everything else falls apart.

Whether you’re producing for live TV, live events, or other high-pressure situations, if you can’t communicate with your people – camera operators, producers, directors, and other team members – you can’t do anything else well.

That’s why talking with an expert in high-stakes communications, Vytas Urbonas from IntraCom Systems, was great.

Webinar Preview Video

On the 30-minute webinar, Vytas and I walk you through a demo of how broadcasters are using IntraCom’s VCOM Platform so you can see how easily it integrates into your existing workflows to quickly connect everyone on your team with features like low latency, echo cancellation, and high-quality 48 kHz audio.

Vytas explains how you can streamline communication among remote teams without additional hardware, connecting even thousands of people during live sporting events, election coverage, or any time the pressure is on. In fact, you can spin it up for a specific event without a long-term commitment!

You’ll also discover:

  • How you can improve communication between the control room and remote studios or at-home production staff
  • The top ways VCOM helps many broadcasters produce live news and sports remotely
  • The method you could use to enhance technical coordination for the distribution of broadcast content
  • Why IntraCom technology allows dispersed teams to maintain mission-critical contact during emergencies
  • How you can replace analog communication systems within your existing workflows

If you want to know how to eliminate disruptions and site losses when there’s no room for error, don’t miss this informative webinar.

Check out the replay now. 

After you watch, if you’re ready to learn more about how VCOM can streamline communication for your high-stakes productions, contact us.

Watch the Webinar & Demo: How IntraCom’s VCOM Matrix Communication Platform is Being Used in Broadcast Production Environments [YouTube]

Webinar Recording Video

 

Summary

In this webinar, Jim Jachetta, CTO and Co-founder of VidOvation, discusses the importance of intercom and communications in TV production and other mission-critical applications. He introduces Vytas Urbonas, Director of Business Development at Intracom, who explains how their software-based intercom solution, VCOM, can take communications to the cloud. Vytas highlights the advantages of a virtual matrix, such as cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and scalability. He also mentions that VCOM is highly interoperable with existing intercoms and systems, making it easy to integrate into current setups. Vytas and Jake Strassberg, the lead tech at Intracom, demonstrate the functionality of the VCOM control panel, showcasing its customizable features and ease of use. They also discuss the ability to coexist with other intercom systems and the option to use certified hardware for a more traditional control room setup. Overall, VCOM offers a reliable and affordable solution for intercom and communications needs in various industries.

Transcript

Jim Jachetta:
Morning everyone. I’m Jim Jachetta, CTO, and Co-founder of VidOvation. I’m really excited today to have a session about intercom and communications with one of our new vendors, Intracom, as I’m sure you all know, a TV production, a show, an event, or your command and control will fall apart if you lose comms, if you can’t communicate with your people, your camera operators, your producers, your directors, or in a government environment, your command, your control, et cetera, everything falls apart. So today I have an old friend of mine, Vytas Urbonas, he’s director of Business Development at Intracom. He’s joined by Jake Strassberg, their lead tech. Hopefully Steven Brand, the CEO of Intracom will join us later in the session. So Vytas, welcome, welcome to the VidOvation Wednesday webinars, as we call them.
Vytas Urbonas:
Thanks Jim. I really appreciate you giving me the time to come on and talk a little bit about how to take your comms to the cloud. As you mentioned, communication is critical in the production environment, and intercoms are arguably the most essential element in the production workflow. But let’s go to the basics. I mean, in the past, traditional intercoms relied on costly proprietary rack mounted hardware with bulky RF belt packs. It’s obvious that in today’s facility, racks are steadily disappearing. More and more systems are moving to the cloud and IP. I mean, just think about your own media consumption. Are you still watching movies on VHS or DVDs or cassette players or CD players? Likely not. Dedicated hardware just no longer makes sense. Software can now do everything that hardware could with expanded functionality and flexibility.
Intracom itself was launched in 2006 with VCOM, the very first totally IP software-based intercom solution. Since that time we’ve continually refined and updated the platform. It’s interesting to note that lately we’ve seen a few other players come around and try to get in the market and play catch up with their own virtual intercom platforms. But intercom’s software is exceptionally well proven, being used in most major US broadcast facilities and in a number of other mission-critical applications that include government, aerospace, and that includes NASA. I think we can actually mention them. Defense, gaming, financial services and power utilities to name a few.
Jim Jachetta:
Well, Vytas’ nickname is V. So V, what are some of the advantages of having a virtual matrix? Why do we need that? Why is that a benefit?
Vytas Urbonas:
Well, customers are looking for a cost-effective, flexible, and scalable intercom solution. Cost is a major factor and software is reasonably priced. If you wanted to go with the SaaS option, you can avoid CapEx by licensing the software and operating entirely in the cloud, and you don’t have to go in all at once. That is another advantage. I mean, you can create a hybrid solution. VCOM is highly interoperable with existing intercoms and systems via SIP or wire, Dante, NDI audio and it interfaces with existing telephony systems. Since VCOM works on both Android and iOS devices, all manner of off the shelf headsets and accessories are readily available.
Jim Jachetta:
Very cool. So how does this all improve your comms and your communications between the control room, remote studios, people in the field, people working at home? There’s at-home production where you’re working remotely, you’re sending things to your home master control, but now I like to use the word home, home. Home is your house now in a lot of cases. So how does that help tie everything? How do you guys tie that all together?
Vytas Urbonas:
Yeah, it’s a really common application these days. People are working from a couch as much as they are from their desk in the studio. Traditional comms are stuck on-prem and can’t be accessed remotely. You’re just anchored right there. But VCOM can interop with existing equipment and make the audio accessible anywhere in the world via our control panel on any smartphone or computer or you can connect zip lines to dial in if that’s preferred.
Jim Jachetta:
Pretty cool, pretty cool. So you can bring your own hardware, bring your own device. That’s the cool part about it. You just need the software basically. That’s so cool.
Vytas Urbonas:
That’s it.
Jim Jachetta:
Maybe give us some examples or what are the top ways you’ve helped broadcasters, sports leagues, news networks produce some of their live content. How has Intracom and the VCOM system helped?
Vytas Urbonas:
Well, VCOM can be hosted in the cloud and accessed by stations or users at home regardless of their geographic location. VCOM’s video capabilities are ideal for in the field news-gathering, monitoring program feeds and video chats. In fact, one of our broadcast customers mentioned that during COVID they relied on Intracom’s cloud platform to stay on the air, flawlessly keeping thousands of users with over 10,000 channels connected. We’ve also been used in the world’s greatest sporting events and extensively in election coverage.
Jim Jachetta:
So you guys were able to keep 10,000 channels active. Wow, that’s amazing. Because it’s virtual, that’s why we were talking about this yesterday, it’s almost virtually infinitely scalable. You can make the system as small as you like or as big as you like, right? The sky is [inaudible 00:06:38].
Vytas Urbonas:
No one’s been able to reach the edge. I don’t think we’ve had any limitations come upon so far.
Jim Jachetta:
That’s really cool. That’s really cool. So how does this help us operate or streamline our technical coordination when we’re the distribution of broadcast content? I’ll give you an example. One of our customers, a production company, will approach us, yes, they need an intercom system, but they also need IFB. They also want to move program audio through the intercom system. That’s a little unorthodox. You have your video and your program video, your program audio workflow, but in a production, there’s never enough capacity for audio. I need, it’s 15 to one. For every video there’s 10, 15, 20 audios. So you guys address some of those challenges?
Vytas Urbonas:
Yeah, that’s really kind of the heart of the system, the fact that we support point to points groups, party lines, IFB, and we’re able to enhance coordination of even the largest of teams.
Jim Jachetta:
Very cool. So not every customer is going to be a clean slate. Actually, probably most customers have some sort of existing comms, from a numerous brands. So I’m a customer and I have an old analog comm system. How do we migrate our old comm into the new Intracom VCOM system? What’s the transition there, the workflow there?
Vytas Urbonas:
It’s probably simpler than you think, is we offer the same functionality as analog comms systems and VCOM takes only a few minutes to install on the server and that can be housed on-prem or in the cloud. Analog key panels can be replaced by our virtual key panel solution, which runs on any smartphone, tablet, or computer. We can interrupt with existing analog comms with a simple four wire interface for really smooth transition. If you prefer to use a traditional form factor, we also offer a physical control panel that you can utilize.
Jim Jachetta:
Very cool.
Vytas Urbonas:
Rather than me just talking about it, Jim, how about we bring in Jake Strassberg, the intercoms tech leader to show you some of the functions of the control panel and dive into it and show you just how it works?
Jim Jachetta:
Yeah, let me stop. If I stop sharing, I believe Jake should be able to take control.
Jake Strassberg:
Okay, let me see.
Vytas Urbonas:
There he is.
Jake Strassberg:
There we go. This is working, right?
Jim Jachetta:
Yep, we see it.
Jake Strassberg:
Okay. So this is the VCOM control panel, and each of these little buttons here are a different audio channel. So for example, you can have NDI audio or TSP. This is a party line and this white border that’s flashing is voice activity on that party line. You could have fixed groups. Here’s a Dante channel, and then these are just point-to-point users. So a user can have either a talk or a listen. They could have just a talk or they could have just a listen.
So we’re very flexible for whatever type of set up the situation calls for. The control panel is set up per user. So the producer might have a completely different control panel than the rest of the operators on the team. We also do video. So here’s an example of a video feed playing… A second here. So you can tie in your program feeds and monitor them as well as your comms on the same interface. If I were to hit, so this is what you would just press the listen to listen in our channel, you press the talk to talk and you can have multiple of these going on at the same time. So you can listen to as many channels as you need or talk on as many channels as you need at a time.
Jim Jachetta:
Very cool. So…
Vytas Urbonas:
Key point that Jake brought up was that you can put as many of these users up there, but you can control the functionality of each one through the system admin window.
Jake Strassberg:
Yeah, that’s right. So each panel is completely customizable and different from the next if you need it to be. So you can have a completely different set of selectors on the screen depending on the use case.
Jim Jachetta:
Yeah, we were talking yesterday to that, guess every production is different. We’ve done some live reality shows. So in an example, maybe the producer needs to hear what the director is doing loud at a higher volume, but then the camera ops in the field, if somebody is screaming for help or there’s some, so they might want to mix different party lines together, we can do that. I see there’s a little volume control button. So if I am listening to a channel, I can kind of mix the comms, or if we’re using it for IFB, I can mix the IFB, right? My director is way too loud in my ear. I want to lower him. He’s screaming at me. So you can control that or you can lock it where they can’t turn it off. So the talent has to listen to the directors that… You have those kinds of controls?
Jake Strassberg:
Yeah, that’s exactly correct. Yeah. So these blue bars are each individual volume sliders under each of these channels. If you have someone talent set up as an IFB for example, then yeah, they’ll be forced to listen to the audio as needed.
Jim Jachetta:
Well, that’s cool. That’s cool. Then you were telling me yesterday in our pre-webinar meeting that obviously the director can have authority to barge in, but you could prevent a camera operator from being able to barge in. In other words, if the director is already talking to someone else, camera one, camera two can’t barge in, but the director can barge in. You set those parameters in the background? Elaborate on that, some of those backend features.
Jake Strassberg:
Yeah, that’s right. So on this panel, for example, this user one has a talk. So when I hit this talk, the user one is going to hear my audio guaranteed or non-blocking intercom. So they don’t have to click anything to start hearing me. But say for example, if you didn’t want me to have that ability, you could just set up the panel to only have the listen key. So this user, for example, I have no ability to talk to them. I could only listen in on their channel and just essentially wait for them to start talking to me, is how that works. So yeah, each of these buttons, I mean the capabilities are endless. You can give as much control or as little control as you’d like.
Jim Jachetta:
Very cool. Very, very cool. Because this is software, we can spin up, spin down. A lot of our customers, they’re like, well, I don’t want an intercom system indefinitely. I do six events a year, and as you guys know, in sports it’s seasonal. So I do six events, it’s from summertime. Do I have to sign a long-term contract to get this or can I spin something up for a week? Can I spin it up for three months?
Vytas Urbonas:
Well, we set it up, Jim, we set it up by the month. So if you’ve got an event coming up, you would simply do the SaaS option where you sign up at least a minimum of 10 users to be on the system, and it’s all by the month. So you don’t have to commit to a full year or anything like that. We make it as simple as possible and as flexible as possible.
Jim Jachetta:
Okay. Yeah. In VidOvation’s business, if you’re in the bonded cellular transport business, 90% of the time the product’s rented. It’s a rental, an OpEx model versus CapEx. If someone wanted to sign a long-term contract, I’m sure you would do that as well.
Vytas Urbonas:
Yeah, well, they’ve got the option. They can either go on a monthly or they can buy the software outright and then they own it. I mean, that becomes common more in a closed environment. A government, they don’t want to be on the cloud. In fact, they’re not allowed to be on the cloud. So they buy the software, they install it on their own servers, and it’s a closed loop system. There’s no access to the public internet.
Jim Jachetta:
Very cool. Very cool. So during, once the lockdown started, right, everyone was scrambling to work from the cloud. There’s another IP-based systems that are out there, low cost, but they’re kind of a science project. You need to use a consumer Mac computer. It’s not a server, it’s not enterprise. I guess I describe it as it’s a bit of a science experiment when it comes to comms. You guys have been doing this since 2006. You were the first to do IP. You can use Android or iOS devices, tablets, basically anything with a browser. That’s the common, you don’t need an app. You need to have something that has an active browser. That’s all you need.
Vytas Urbonas:
As long as you can download the software. Go ahead, Jake.
Jake Strassberg:
Yeah, I was going to say we do have apps for every major platform. Or alternatively, you can also access the control panel from the browser if you don’t want to download the app.
Jim Jachetta:
Okay. Well, this is also training for me. I am new to Intracom, but you have the choice, but obviously a native app for the device is going to work better, have a tighter integration. Then these other solutions I mentioned are attractive, because they’re low cost, but Intracom, you guys are very affordable. You just need to buy the 10 licenses. We won’t mention pricing on a webinar. I put a link in the chat to everyone. You can book a call with the VidOvation biz dev team to learn more, but it’s not that expensive. You get your 10 licenses and that’s 10 endpoints. So that’s 10 tablets, 10 Android, 10 iPhones, and this is an enterprise solution. It’s not a science experiment.
Vytas Urbonas:
I don’t think NASA would be using this if we were at that level.
Jim Jachetta:
Correct. Correct. So just because it’s enterprise doesn’t necessarily mean, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Then another cool thing too is, you guys were telling me, Vytas, you were telling me that with customers it’s a transition. You don’t have to, someone has a clear comm, an RTS system. This can operate alongside or in parallel or it could replace the whole system that you could bridge the comms that are already present on the studio side with VCOM. If we’re using VCOM in the field, the two systems can coexist.
Vytas Urbonas:
Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s part of the flexibility that’s built into the system, and it’s not uncommon that we operate that way. If someone’s doing a whole new studio, they very well may want to replace all the racks and just go with the software based solution.
Jim Jachetta:
Right. Then I love the idea, it’s you bring your own hardware. So I’ll use my own computer, my own tablet, my own iPhone, but in the control room, I’m a technical director. I probably don’t want my comms on my phone or on a computer. I may want more of lack of a better term, old school push buttons. I need to talk to the director or listen to the director and have a gooseneck. You guys have certified hardware, hardware that’s certified with your software available. Tell us more about that.
Vytas Urbonas:
Yeah, we have a control panel that has the functionality and familiarity with the traditional control panel. It’s a touchscreen unit. It’s made in the US and it’s got a gooseneck, it’s got speaker, and it’s got everything you need. It’s ready to go. We can also provide you with a server. If you don’t have one, we’ll pre-configure it with the VCOM software built into it if you wanted it, go that way. I mean, there’s a number of options and we can help support whatever your needs are. At this point, I would encourage people to go ahead and reach out to the VidOvation sales team with additional questions. If they’re really interested, I mean if you want to go to the VCOM software demo, you can go to intercomsystems.com and log in and click on the demo and follow the instructions if you want to play around with it. But beyond that, if you’re really serious about checking out the system, VidOvation can coordinate getting a 30-day license for people to check out in their own facility and really find out just how easy it is to take your comms to the cloud.
Jim Jachetta:
Then we don’t have to ship any hardware. They can try it out on their iPhones or Android. That’s very generous of you guys to offer a 30 day. Well, I think there’s a reason for that, right? 30 days are going to fall in love with it, not want to disconnect or delete it, right?
Vytas Urbonas:
It gives you a chance to take the unit out for a real test drive and see just how it really works in your real world environment, not just play with it a little bit on our website.
Jim Jachetta:
That’s very cool.
Vytas Urbonas:
But yeah, that’s the hope that they won’t be able to live without it afterwards.
Jim Jachetta:
Well, Vytas, Jake, thank you guys so much. I’m sure most of the listeners know, well, hopefully you know who VidOvation is, but just a quick overview. I mean, if VidOvation, we’re a systems integrator, reseller, we offer consulting services, design and engineering systems, integration, project management, we wrap everything that we integrate into warranty and support contract, and we represent great brands like Intracom, great people and great brands. So guys, thank you so much. Let’s see. I think I asked so many questions. Maybe I hogged all the Q & A. If any of you folks have any questions, please put anything in the chat.
VidOvation’s contact information is here. Our main phone number is 9497775435. You see my personal information, JimJ@novation.com, you can reach out to me. If you’re on social media, you may have bumped into me on two occasions. I know Vytas, you’re active on social…
Vytas Urbonas:
Not as much as you, Jim.
Jim Jachetta:
So hopefully it’s not too much. So please reach out to us. We’d love to talk about your intercom, but it’s not just the intercom, the IFB. For program audio, I see this as an important tool to use alongside some of our other vendors, some of the video transport, a video transport, one video might have four or eight audios to go with it. A lot of times eight is not enough. So the comms add more program audio. I really see a strong synergy there. Well, thanks again Jake and Vytas. Really enjoy working with you guys and all you folks out there, don’t be shy. In about a week we transcribe the session, edit the video, put that up on our website, put the video on YouTube. The audio I will put on our podcast channel, podcast is ideas and video communications. So look, either search the word VidOvation or ideas and video communications and you’ll find our podcast or my name Jim Jachetta. I think it’ll pop up as well. So thanks everyone, have a great day and thank you for joining. Take care.
Vytas Urbonas:
Thank you Jim. Thanks for letting us join you.
Jim Jachetta:
Thanks guys.
Jake Strassberg:
Thanks.

 

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